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Ten things we learned at The London Book Fair
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Posted by IPG

1 It was a very busy Fair

Some experienced IPG members said the 2017 Fair was the busiest they could remember in years, and there was certainly congestion in the aisles. BookBrunch reported early indications from LBF—not officially audited—that pre-registered visitor numbers were up by double digits on 2016, and on strolls around the halls that felt about right.

2 The IPG is a vibrant community…

Our collective stand at the Fair reinforced the picture of a packed Fair. We hosted around 75 different members and acted as a hub for many more, and the stand had a buzz to match any at Olympia. From the opening moments on Tuesday morning to packing-up time on Thursday, our communal space was heaving.

3 … And a growing one

We were delighted to sign up 20 new IPG members during the Fair, sending our membership well past 600. We extend a very warm welcome to them all and hope they take advantage of all the benefits of belonging. Many of the new members are recent start-ups—a sure sign that new independent talent continues to flow into publishing.

4 There is strength in numbers

One of the most pleasing things about our collective stand is the way it facilitates conversation and the exchange of views. From the people to meet to the events to attend to the best spots for lunch, IPG members were full of great advice—especially to those visiting LBF for the first time, which can be a daunting experience.

5 Brexit has helped as well as hindered

The vast majority of IPG members voted to remain in the European Union in last year’s Referendum, and conversations at Olympia showed that the outcome still anguishes many. But the resulting fall in the value of the pound led to some clear benefits at LBF—not least the increased spending power of European and north American visitors, which has produced a welcome boost for our academic members in particular.

6 Publishing is truly international

Anyone worried that Brexit might drive a wedge between European and UK publishers would have had their fears eased at Olympia. Despite the vote—perhaps even because of it—the mood of collaboration was palpable.

7 Print has bounced back

Nielsen BookScan figures show that physical book sales rose in 2016, and there have been some upbeat reports from booksellers recently. Digital publishing is still hugely important of course, but print remains king.

8 The Fair has settled at Olympia

Some IPG members preferred Earls Court as a venue for LBF, but the consensus was that Olympia is now a pretty good home—even if travel can still be a pain.

9 Sunshine lifted the spirits

Even though Fair-goers were cooped up inside, the glass roof over Olympia at least provided a glimpse of the fine spring weather. Everything about the Fair feels better in the sunshine.

10 Fair-going is a thirsty business

Our annual stand party at the Fair seems to grow in reputation every year, but 2017’s edition was on a whole new scale. Our supply of beer and wine was dispatched in record time, forcing some visitors to drink unfamiliar juice and water instead. Our grateful thanks go to BDS for supporting an epic event.

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